Thu, 06 May 2021

Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan have broken ground for a giant trade and economic-cooperation hub, the largest of its kind in Central Asia, along the border of the two neighbors.

The Uzbek government's press service said a groundbreaking ceremony with the prime ministers of the two countries was held on April 10 at the Gishtkoprik-Zhibek Zholy border checkpoint.

'This unique project in the Central Asian region will be profitable for the two nations and contribute to the development of trade and economic ties in the region as a whole,' the Uzbek government said.

Kazakh Prime Minister Asqar Mamin told the ceremony that Kazakh and Uzbek officials have a goal of tripling trade between the two biggest economies in the region to $10 billion.

The Kazakh prime minister's press service said the new hub will cover a territory of 400 hectares and allow some 35,000 people and up to 5,000 trucks to cross the border from both sides each day after it becomes fully operational.

Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoev has taken steps to improve Uzbekistan's ties with its neighbors since he took office after the death of autocrat Islam Karimov in 2016.

During Karimov's 27-year rule in Central Asia's most-populous nation, its relations with Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Turkmenistan were strained by disputes over transit routes, border security, water resources, and other issues.

Copyright (c) 2018. RFE/RL, Inc. Republished with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave NW, Ste 400, Washington DC 20036

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